Dear America: Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie

Dear America: Across the Wide and Lonesome Prairie

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English
208 Pages

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Critically acclaimed and award-winning author Kristiana Gregory's ACROSS THE WIDE AND LONESOME PRAIRIE is now back in print with a gorgeous new package!
After the death of her two sisters, thirteen-year-old Hattie and her family make for a fresh start. They sell their farm in Missouri and journey across the Oregon Trail toward Oregon City. At first the adventure is exciting, but as the days, weeks, and months pass, Hattie realizes what a dangerous and tedious trip it is. As they cross the prairies, news of the fate of the Donner party reaches them, and death, disease, weather, and the terrain take a terrible toll on their traveling party. The Campbells lose neighbors and friends until they almost cannot bear to continue. But Hattie and her family must persevere or risk the same misfortune. Hattie's diary chronicles the hardships of such a harrowing journey, but also captures the small moments, the friendships and celebrations of life, that keep hope alive.

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Published 01 September 2012
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EAN13 9780545530019
License: All rights reserved
Language English

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This book about a journey is dedicated, with deep a ppreciation, to the outstanding editors who have guided and encouraged me along my own journey as a writer:
Jeff Fairbanks, Charlie Ferrell, Scott Gray, Regina Griffin, Karen Grove, Tracy Mack, Ann Reit, Art Seidenbaum, and Elinor Williams; most especially to my literary agent and friend, Barbara Markowitz.
Cover Title Page Dedication
Booneville, Missoura, 1847 January 15, 1847, Friday January 20, 1847, Wednesday February 2, 1847, Tuesday February 3, 1847, Wednesday February 5, 1847, Friday February 7, 1847, Sunday February 9, 1847, Tuesday February 18, 1847, Thursday March 4, 1847, Thursday March 15, 1847, Monday, Aboard the SteamboatEliza May March 16, Tuesday March 25, Thursday, Independence, Missoura March 30, Tuesday April 5, Monday
April 6, Tuesday April 7, Wednesday April 12, Monday April 14, Wednesday April 22, Thursday, Alcove Spring April 25, Sunday April 27, Tuesday April 2?, Wednesday, I think Next day Another day Three days later Next day Two days later May 10, Monday Next day
Another day Next day I don’t know what day this is Ash Hollow Next day Another day Last week in May, thereabouts Chimney Rock Scott’s Bluff Fort Laramie Early June Register Cliff Next day A hot afternoon Mid-June Independence Rock Another day Another day Along the Sweetwater South Pass End of June, Pacific Creek Sandy Creek Early July July 7, Wednesday, Fort Bridger Next day Sheep Rock Two days later Fort Hall Next day Another day Along the Snake River August 1, 1847 Thousand Springs Still along the Snake River Fort Boise Still Fort Boise Before Breakfast Blue Mountains Next day The Dalles Willamette Valley Mid-October, Oregon City, here we are!
October 22, 1847, Friday October 24, 1847, Sunday December 23, 1847, Thursday Christmas, 1847 Epilogue
Life in America in 1847
Historical Note About the Author Acknowledgments Other books in the Dear America series Copyright
Booneville, Missoura January 15, 1847, Friday Sleet and rain. Ma said that because today is my birthday I may hav e two slices of chocolate cake. So I did! After supper she gave me a blue satin rib bon for my braid, then when Pa went to bed she let me unwrap another gift. It was a cam isole with a matching lace petticoat. Since I’m now thirteen years of age, Ma said it’s p roper for me to have pretty underthings. Aunt June agreed, then she gave me this journal. Sh e said every young lady must have a place to record her private thoughts. I will try to do so.
January 20, 1847, Wednesday Still raining. Our roof is leaking upstairs over th e hallway and in my room by the foot of my bed. I’ve moved the pot there to catch the drips . I hide this diary under my pillow, but take it out often to look at. I love the smell of its coarse paper and have decided to use my new hair ri bbon as a bookmark. The blue looks pretty lying across the page.
February 2, 1847, Tuesday Three nights ago my poor uncle Milton fell off our roof while he was helping Pa fix a leak. He died right there in the barnyard, there wa s nothing we could do. His funeral was today, one of the most interesting days in a very long time. It all started when his coffin fell out the side of our ha y wagon and slid down the bank into the river. Ma held the horses while Pa went after the coffin through the mud and weeds. I hurried after Pa, but my skirt caught in the brush. He grabbed the coffin and had his arms around it to haul it up, but just then a St. L ouis steamboat rounded the bend with its big paddles churning up the water and making wa ves higher than Pa’s head. He held on tight, but all of a sudden he floated out i nto those waves like a cork, me and Ma screaming for help. Some folks on the top deck yelled until the captain pulled the whistle long and loud. Pa was being sucked into those tall white paddles w hen someone threw him a rope and pulled him aboard just in time. We watched the coffin go under. Some moments later it popped free, its lid gone and Uncle Milton, too. Where he went, we don’t know, but this is how we came to be acquainted with the riverboat captain who felt so s orry for us that he said he’d take us anywhere we pleased, no charge. “Anywheres?” Pa asked, as he stomped the water out of his boots. “Yes, sir,” he said. “Anywhere.”
This very evening Pa made a shocking announcement: He said that because of the captain’s kindness we can now afford to take a rive rboat up to Independence, where the Oregon Trail begins. We will take on board our old wagon and our belongings. We will buy some mules in that town, then we will head West. Just like that. Ma’s mouth dropped open, but no words came out. She was so mad I suspect the next funeral will be my pa’s.
February 3, 1847, Wednesday Wind blowing through this creaky old house kept me awake most of the night, so here I am in my shawl, looking out the little window by my bed, trying to stay warm. Since my room is in the attic it stays cold until Ma opens the stair door. My fingers are numb, so I will write quick. I can hear Ma downstairs frying up bacon and puttin g coffee on. She did not speak to Pa the rest of yesterday, nor has she this morning, for all I hear is silence after Pa’s questions. When Ma gets mad, she stays mad a long time.
February 5, 1847, Friday Three days have gone by with Ma only speaking to me , my little brothers, and Aunt June. Finally at supper tonight she looked at Pa an d said, “Charles Campbell, Oregon is two thousand miles away.” Pa nodded. He seemed so relieved to have Ma talking again. She said, “Tell me why, Charles, and I will tell you yes or no.” My, it was a long evening. I took up the plates and set to washing them with Jake. He is six and likes to splash the water, but still he is a help. Bennie’s two so he stayed
on Ma’s knee while she listened to Pa. Pa said he’d been unhappy about so many people settling here in Missoura. It’s crowded. Taxes are high. And there’s swamp fever th at kills folks every summer. At the mention of swamp fever Pa grew quiet. He swa llowed hard, then looked at Ma with tears in his eyes. In a soft voice he said her name: “Augusta,” he said, “we’ll be able to start a new life, where there ain’t no sad memories. There’s space out West, all the land we want. Free for the taking. Winters are mild, that’s what these pamphlets say.” He held up a booklet calledThe Emigrants’ Guide, to Oregon and Californiaby Lansford W. Hastings, and another by the explorers John C. Frémont and Kit Carson. I took my candle upstairs. I’m not sure if Ma said yes or no, but I’m happy to once again hear them whispering together in their room.
February 7, 1847, Sunday We have given up hope of finding Uncle Milton’s bod y. So today in church folks took turns walking up to the pulpit to say a few kind wo rds. My friend Becky, she’s exactly my age, she sang a hymn so sweet all the ladies dab bed hankies to their cheeks. Afterward my aunt June and uncle Tim came in a free zing rain and we sat together in front of the fire. I served up coffee and two pe ach pies made from last summer’s preserves. My, it was delicious. When they said the y wanted to come to Oregon, too, well, Mama smiled for the first time in days for Au nt June is her dear younger sister. (It was their brother, Milton, that died.)
February 9, 1847, Tuesday Word spreads fast in a small town. Everyone’s talki ng about Oregon and California. Becky says she would positively perish from lonelin ess if I left Booneville, which is where we were born and have lived our whole lives. “Please don’t go, Hattie,” she said. “If you leave Missoura, we may never see each other again.” I feel sad when Becky talks so. It’s pretty much divided down the middle who thinks which is the best place to go to. Pa said that since California is like a foreign cou ntry and we don’t speak Spanish we best head for Oregon. It’s occupied by the British, but at least those folks speak English. Our new president is James Polk. Pa says the only reason he won the election is because he promised to make Oregon and California territories of the United States. So if enough of us get up and go, it’ll help push the foreigners aside for good. It’s our “Manifest Destiny,” according to President Polk. It’s our responsibility to spread democracy all the way to the Pacific coast. Ma was at her mending this morning, in the window s eat where the light is good. I sat on the little stool with the embroidered cushio n. When I looked up, I saw she was crying. “What is it, Mama?” She lifted the hem of her apron to dry her cheeks. “Hattie, I don’t care about ‘Manifest Destiny.’ The West is wilderness. It’ll b e a frightfully long journey with no turning back. All our dear friends live in Boonevil le, and besides, I don’t think I can bear to leave behind your sisters.” I lay my face on Ma’s lap. She was talking about my four sweet sisters, three older, one younger. Last summer — the most horrible summer of our lives — they died one
right after the other, from swamp fever, and they a re buried next to my grandparents
under the big walnut tree out back. I am now the eldest of the Campbell children. I am thirteen years of age and am afraid of only four things in the whole world. 1. Indians 2. copperhead snakes